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No Turning Back

Hola,

So! As O’weeks start to roll around, it’s time to re-launch the new look blog and start looking forward to the rest of the year. This will be a very busy year for Womens departments around the country; not only because the national gender pay gap widened last year, but because sexual assault rates are still disgustingly high, childcare remains inaccessible to many, there are groups still actively campaigning to remove women’s right to autonomy over her own body and women are still facing domestic violence. Women are still far less likely to be CEOs, Members of Parliament, published authors, be signed to major record labels or reach the top of any of their chosen fields BUT Tony Abbott has a legitimate chance of being our Prime Minister.

This is the reality that I find the scariest; Potential Prime Minister Abbott. The man who supports the return of  ‘at-fault divorce’. The man who, when legislation that would allow parents to view their teenagers Medicare consults and claims said “children should not be presumed to be the best judges of their own long-term interests … it is the responsibility of government – and doctors – … to support parental authority.” The man who, when Health Minister, attempted to keep the authorisation of RU486 under his complete control. The man who also misrepresented statistics and regularly attacked and demonised women who sought to access abortions. He said abortions were a ‘National tragedy’ and left a ‘legacy of shame’. The man who, last time he was in government, said “Compulsory paid maternity leave? Over this Government’s dead body, frankly.”

This is a year that we need to put our differences aside and work together to further the cause. We need to continue our work to close the gender pay gap, to put an end to sexual assault, to campaign for accessible access to childcare, to ensure that on September 14 when Australians go to the ballot box they know what is in store for them if Tony Abbott is elected.

Right now I think it is important to not only look forward, but also to consider the past to see where we have succeeded and where we can grow. The Womens department has been one of the most active in recent years- this is something that I am very keen to continue with campaigns running throughout the year which will tackle sexual assault, societal sexism, equal pay and of course – Tony Abbott. With the assistance of campus Womens Officers, feminist and Womens collectives and student organisations as a whole, I want to have an open dialogue with every Womens Officer around the country so that we can work together to tackle the issues affecting women on each and every campus and around the nation.

It is also important for us not to focus solely on womens issues on university campuses but to acknowledge that many issues women face on campus are because they are prominent in society as a whole, and this year is proving to be jam packed with events and ways for each of us – no matter where we live – to get involved. Upcoming events include

1 billion Rising. 

http://onebillionrising.org

Is aiming to have 1 billion women and those who support women rise up on Valentines Day to end rape and rape culture all around the world.

International Womens Day -THE GENDER AGENDA: Gaining momentum.

http://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.asp#.URjsabTjZUQ

Every year IWD is celebrated on the 8th of March to celebrate the political, economic and social achievements of women while continuing the fight for true equality. There will be fundraiser breakfasts in Perth, Sydney, Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, and Brisbane as well as other events throughout March.

To those Womens officers, leaders of Feminist and Womens collectives, Womens rights activist around the country who I have not had a chance to speak with yet, please give me a call, flick me an email, tweet at me hell send me a letter I really want to hear from you so we can have a dialogue and work together.

Talk About It! For those of you who don’t know Talk About It is a survey that is ran biannually that looks into assault, sexual assault and rape that is perpetrated against women and women identifying university students. It is a 100% confidential online survey that only takes 15 minuets to fill out and will help provide statistics for the report to outline the problem and make universities and colleges stand up and take action. Please take the time to fill it out as it is really important that we get as many responses as possible.  You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=phTDc3vHxzLaWfL3F%2fiXldMT%2bbTZKzTy7g2AnVGckgU%3d

Finally I would like to – on behalf of Women around the country – thank Noni Sproule (2012 National Womens Officer) for her hard work and dedication to the position in spite of the personal attacks and demonization she faced at times. I know that I have learnt a lot from her as many have and hope to continue on her hard work in the department.  We wish you the best of luck in your post NUS endeavours. Thank you Noni!

Cheers

Mikaela Wangmann

NUS National Womens Officer 2013

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